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Finding a Job Now: What It Takes In This Economy

Onofrio Patafio was laid off from his project management position at an Internet marketing company in January. Being unemployed has made him realize how times have changed when it comes to finding a new job.

"Everything was paper based years ago," says the 42-year-old Patafio, who lives in Norwalk, Conn. "You mailed in your resume or made phone calls. Everything is technology today. You have to have some sort of social blog or network to get anywhere."

As the jobless numbers continue to rise, so does the effort needed to get a new place of employment, according industry experts.

"Most high earning execs will find their next job through networking," says Promise Phelon, CEO of UpMo, an online service aimed at helping professionals find work. "The old tricks are not working anymore. You can't just shop your resume around."

Wading through the various tasks needed to find work can be frustrating. But there are some specific steps executive job seekers can take. And industry experts say taking some sort of action on all the steps is necessary these days:

  • Network with online sites like LinkedIn
  • Increase your computer skills for posting resumes/job searching
  • Consider joining a job club, either professional or local community group
  • Be prepared to look at other industries that could use your skills
  • Come up with an action plan for a company that might hire you
  • Get to the person who is actually doing the hiring

Networking

Some industry analysts say without networking, you won't get anywhere.

"You have to have a good resume and network," says Dr. Dr. Rachelle J. Cantor, a social physiologist and book author on career moves. "Online job postings are fine, but networking is just as important."

While many experts point to networking as crucial these days, others say that alone won't guarantee a new job.

Your Job, Your Life | A CNBC Special Report
Your Job, Your Life | A CNBC Special Report

"People really need to focus on getting past the gatekeeper," says Rick Probstein, who is CEO of Topjobleads.com, a consulting firm for job seekers making more than $100,000 a year. "Networking is great but you're going to put a lot of energy into it and not necessarily getting to someone who's going to actually hire you."

And just what does networking mean? In the current economy, it depends on who you talk to.

"Networking means connecting with people willing and able to get you to your next job," says Phelon. "It needs to be a beneficial relationship. Whether it's LinkedIn or not, that’s how you find a network."

Job Search 'Groups'

More so-called job groups are turning up as more people get laid off. These groups can be run by a local community or organized by a professional staff. Most offer resume reviews, counseling sessions, speakers and networking opportunities.

But whether a job hunter should join one is up to the individual, says Dr. Cantor.

"I worked with a CFO a couple of years ago who was thrown into utter panic by a job search club," says Cantor. "People talked about how he or she had been out of work for many months or even years. I told him if participation was promoting panic, he should drop out of the group. He did and had another good job within 90 days."

And when it comes to recruiters, it's also a case of buyer beware.

"Look for specialized recruiters," says Shawn Desgroselier, managing partner at Kaye Bassman International, an executive search firm. "The recruiting business is vast and diverse. You need to know who they know in order to get a new position."

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Downsizing

Technical skills

When it comes to today's technology, simply posting a resume on a job search site isn't enough, according to Desgrosellier.

"Job seekers need to understand there's a relevance component to posting resumes. They need to know about keywords, words that are used by employers and recruiters to search for resumes."

Desgrosellier says that local computer classes can help a job seeker understand the process. "Job seekers need to be technically savvy more than before," he says.

Doing more than the usual

The usual steps of redoing the resume and reaching out to employers doesn't really cut it in today's economy, according to UpMo's Phelon.

"A hiring manager told me that everyone's overqualified these days," says Phelon. "Resumes are important but having an action plan for the job seeker and the company is what managers want. What are you going to do for the company? That's what they want to know."

And employers are in the driver's seat when it comes to hiring, says Kaye Bassman's Desgroselier.

"Companies are looking for better people," he says. "Job seekers have to make it a full-time endeavor. You have to tap into any possible resource you can."

Keeping up the Search

Patafio says he gets up every day at 6:30 a.m. in order to start looking for work. He is getting some free job counseling from his previous employer and networks all he can. He's taken a course to freshen up his resume.

Patafio figures he's got about two to three months before he and his family face the end of their savings. Patafio says he's starting to think about transferring his previous skills as a salesman to the insurance industry.

"I would say I’m optimistic," says Patafio who is married with two small children. "There are jobs out there. I'm very hopeful that something will come up later. With the number of people looking our there, it’s just going to take more time."

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